Tango Argentino > Not touchy feely

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by Tango Distance, Mar 5, 2015.

  1. Fred&Lily

    Fred&Lily New Member

    This has been a long and interesting thread. Like Tango Distance I'm not a touchy feely guy and even after about 15 years of dancing Latin and Ballroom and two full years learning AT - I'm still only comfortable dancing with Lily. ( and she's still back leading me!)

    I find dancing with short and petite followers awkward and difficult. I'm not a big person, 5 10" and 190 lbs, but I play hockey three mornings a week so my lead is strong and physical. At the group lessons and Practicas I rotate through all the ladies, and Lily pushes me to go over and dance with various followers, but honestly, at the Milongas I hide like a cowardly lion from "butterflies" - petite followers.
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  2. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    Thank you for the update, OP, and all who have shared your experience. It's good to continue stretching and working through your limits and insecurities.

    I'm an introvert myself. I only have so much energy for social activities. I would rather teach a group of 200 people how to waltz (and have) than have a one-on-one conversation with a stranger or *gasp* mingle at a party. At the dances, I stake out a spot (usually the same one each week) and wait for people to come to me to chat or ask me to dance. They do, then wander off and I hang out by myself until the next one comes by. It's very hard for me to walk up to people and chat or even ask them to dance. And this is with 20 years of dancing, 14 of those teaching.
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  3. Tango Distance

    Tango Distance Active Member

    Thanks for the good words. I had assumed I was the only introvert in my studio, but I'm now guessing there are others. I have been assuming dancing is a dominantly extrovert kind of thing, but maybe not. I'm doing lots of reading (typical introvert kind of thing!). I'm not too bad on conversing, the touch thing is my big deal. One of the test questions I read was do you go to the center of the room or to a corner? At the Milonga I head right for the least busy corner, that fits.

    I exchanged email with my instructor. Of course she said things like you were great, thanks, it was fun, etc -- I'm not sure I believe that (unless she has a really really broad definition of fun and cut me tons of beginner's slack on great and thanks for trying!) but I appreciated the encouragement. The little bit of advice she slipped in was to dance to the beat and confidence. I'm pretty sure I was short on both! That would help explain having trouble leading and her following -- I probably couldn't concentrate on two things at once (music and steps).

    Here's yet another way I figured out to look at things: A song's worth of private lessons would be around $5. I could "make back" the Milonga fee pretty quick by dancing with the instructor (clearly the best female there). Hmmm, not much of an inducement but I can use every bit of encouragement I can get!

    Re: wine at the Milongas. No, haven't tried that, and not sure it is a good idea to start, but I could see people having a desire to relax a bit.

    Thanks all again. I never would have predicted this path. If nothing else it is good to understand oneself better and beyond dance these understandings will help my relationship with my dw (it's pretty good, but this should make it better).
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  4. Tango Distance

    Tango Distance Active Member

  5. Tango Distance

    Tango Distance Active Member

    Please elucidate, is it that because you are further away or it is more consistent or ?
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2015
  6. FancyFeet

    FancyFeet Well-Known Member

    Mostly that it stays constant, yes, but also that there is no eye contact (with certain exceptions now that I am working on open stuff), and I hang out on the left in my own little world. There is still contact and interplay between the partners, but to me it feels more formal and often less intimate than other styles.

    I'm not explaining it horribly well, I'm afraid... it sort of reminds me of a bygone era where societal rules and convention were much more important, known to all, and followed. I'm just more comfortable in a rules-based environment, I guess.
  7. Tango Distance

    Tango Distance Active Member

    Thanks, and glad to hear expectations are low on me as a newbie. Something I have found interesting is my dw has received mild reproof on multiple occasions for not switching partners (including at a Milonga). I have not received anything even close, even though I'd be the one to blame for not switching partners. I received big positive feedback when I did start switching.
  8. Tango Distance

    Tango Distance Active Member

    Not to worry, I understand! My mom taught me to look people in the eye. I have been told I'm a good listener, and I think eye contact is part of that. At one lesson the instructor said to not laser-eye your dance partner the whole time (which is what I was doing). That is also good advice for helping to avoid collisions by looking around! Anyway, I quit looking right at the eyes the whole time, and I think that has made it easier for me – it's less intense and personal when you don't look right into someone's eyes for minutes at a time! My dw, however, does still get the (loving) laser eyes treatment! Yes, I know close embrace can dispense with the eye issue altogether. CE is to be discussed in an upcoming post.

    On a related note: Yes, I get this is not exactly the connection/passion/sensuality/etc. of Tango, but hey whatever works, right? Inspired by TomTango's comment to think about the mechanics of Tango, I realized it was like flying a quadcopter. You can steer a kilogram of quadcopter with grams of joystick force. With Tango, you are guiding 50+ kg of female with < 0.5 kg of input! That's 20 dB of control gain! Like the plane, you need to know where everything is, the orientation, error recovery, obstacle avoidance, and more. How could that not be fun?
  9. Tango Distance

    Tango Distance Active Member

    My instructors are excellent, both as dancers and teachers. The male instructor has traded some very helpful emails with me, and the female instructor has a good people sense. Here are some things I appreciate (good dance stuff is assumed, this focuses on the touchy feely stuff):

    They are great leaders by example. During demonstrations they look like they are truly enjoying even the simplest steps.

    While they encourage switching partners, they have never put an individual or couple on the spot about not switching.

    My wife once asked the female instructor to show me a step. The instructor asked “May I?” rather than just grabbing me. I greatly appreciated that!

    In an email the instructor said he was glad to see we were switching partners, and that it would be good for our learning. That was smart, no big hairy discussion, just positive reinforcement.

    I suppose it was inevitable. Once the hugging started, the instructor continued to hug my wife. Being a kind, inclusive kind of person she started hugging me, too. I tried to look and act neutral.

    I was conflicted about doing so, but after the “dissociated dance” I decided to share a link to post #37 with my female instructor, before she forgot (also shared with the male instructor). The writing received an enthusiastic reception. They said they read it multiple times, appreciated the insights, and to please keep writing.

    At the next huggable event, the female instructor hugged my wife. She then leaned towards me, smiled conspiratorially, and said “Hi!” with no hug! I said a heartfelt “Thank you!” Apparently she had read not just the post on the dissociated dance, but this whole “Not Touchy Feely” thread. I felt understood and felt a wave of affection for my instructor. <joke> I was so thankful I almost gave her a hug! </joke> BTW, upon learning I'd rather not be hugged, some people start hugging and touching me more often, and do longer and tighter hugs. <attempt at humor> Hmmmmm, maybe that is revenge upon me by my mother-in-law? </attempt at humor>

    Yeah, it didn't go well, but I do logically realize the “dissociated dance” was another example of being a good instructor. It would be perfectly reasonable and good business for her to assume a little push might get me over the hump and rolling down the road of doing some mingling at Milongas. This thought leads into the next post.
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  10. Tango Distance

    Tango Distance Active Member

    I suppose it is good in a way the dance with my instructor went the way it did. As I detailed in post #37, I couldn't and still can't remember 90% of it. Had it been like class, I probably would have thought “Been there, done that, back to dancing only with dw.” The fact that I blanked it out made me think this is something I should work – I feel like I can't let what is a normal, healthy situation for many people get the better of me like that. After a little internet research, I think it was dissociation (hence my calling it the “dissociation dance”). We all dissociate – like driving right past an exit. You are still functioning, but your mind is off on something else. It is also exacerbated by lack of sleep, and I was pretty far behind on my sleep that week.

    I changed my metric from “what is most fun for me” to “how am I going to overcome this?” I figure this does not call for any particular long term action or commitment, just some short-term action such that I can do a dance with memories intact. I have set a goal to ask the same instructor for a dance at a Milonga – with the desired result of remembering it this time! BTW since I gave my instructor a link to this thread, she'll know I said that – a little self-induced external pressure to do it is not a bad thing.

    But wait, there's more. Life circumstances are such that dw has to miss a couple of months of Milongas. I can still make the classes, though my dw is going to have to miss some of them, too. I had been practicing only with dw at the practicas. I realized it was more of a baby step to practice with someone else at a practica, than it would be to wait for a Milonga. I announced the plan to dw and she said she would be happy to sit out, if needed, to facilitate the plan. There was one excess female I knew from my class. She was happy to practice, and I remembered the whole thing. Baby step goal accomplished, the success felt good! I even did a second practice with the same lady later that night. My dw suggested also a really experienced dancer, but I declined as I felt I had accomplished enough for one night and I didn't know the experienced dancer.

    I practiced with three ladies at the next practica, and one at the one after (I was late, so no time for more). DW couldn't make either of them, but I consider it progress that I went on my own.

    But wait, there's more. I'm also retaking the beginner's class in parallel with taking the 2nd level Tango class. A side benefit I didn't expect was it seems easier switching partners. I think since I know the beginning stuff pretty well, having taken the class before, the stress of “am I doing this right?” is gone so it is a more relaxed experience. So it's a thought, if switching partners is a hard thing to do, take the class with your significant other not switching, and take it again then switching. At my studio, multiple couples that didn't switch started switching partners after a while – that's an example of one step at a time.

    Things that have happened of late:

    o Decided to confide in my instructors by giving them a link to this thread. Admittedly it might not have been a huge amount of confiding, as I suspect the instuctors already had some clue about me. (There's an irony of the web, “confiding” in someone by pointing them towards public postings!) I figure I can't be their first such student.

    o Decided to put some trust in my instructors – avoid a Journal of Psychiatry level of analysis on everything and just do what they say. I can always do whatever I want once the class is done. <joke mode> I'm not aware of any deaths under their tutelage. I'm not sure, but I vaguely remember something about a brief dissociation incident with one of their students. Probably nothing to worry about, what are the odds that would happen to me? </joke mode>

    o Now doing a little switching of partners at the class practicas with people I know from class.
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  11. Tango Distance

    Tango Distance Active Member

    I feel like I'm starting to get a handle on switching partners in class and at practicas. Then the instructor announced the class would be doing close embrace! “Wait!” I thought to myself, “I'm not ready! I thought that wouldn't be until the 3rd level class!”

    … to be continued ...
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  12. newbie

    newbie Well-Known Member

    See you teacher, bye bye.
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  13. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    I suspect you'll do fine. Some teachers have people try close embrace on the first day. IMO, the main challenge is that close embrace tends to magnify some flaws, that you can get away with more easily in open embrace.
    Last edited: May 12, 2015
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  14. RiseNFall

    RiseNFall Well-Known Member

    Love your posts and how you are handling all of it, particularly recognizing when you have done enough for one night. Looking forward to hearing how the close embrace goes!
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  15. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    Thank you for keeping us updated! I'm really proud of how you're taking ownership of this and progressing. Keep up the good work!
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  16. Tango Distance

    Tango Distance Active Member

    I didn't write it, but actually that was my first thought! My first impulse was to walk out then, the door was only ten steps away! That lesson was all open embrace (whew!). After some thinking that put the logical brain back in charge, I figured I have some momentum going, figured the instructors might have some clue about teaching Tango (massive understatement!), figured I'm working on me anyways, figured it is just a few lessons, figured I don't have to do anything forever, so decided to stick with the class.

    dchester, RiseNFall, and twnklotz many thanks for the encouragement.
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  17. wooh

    wooh Well-Known Member

    I used to not be at all touchy feely. Then between what I do for a living (mostly) and social dancing, I'm way too touchy feely now. It's definitely something that you can grow comfortable with if you allow yourself to do so. Sounds like you're doing that, unlike some that come here and say, "I have this issue," and despite whatever advice they're given, insist on keeping that issue rather than work through it. Kudos to you!
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  18. Aggy

    Aggy New Member

    New here, but liked this thread. The world where I live is ballroom dancesport and there body contact is considered nothing special. During a tryout, you shake hands, introduce yourself a bit, take hold and dance. The focus is very much on technique and body contact is simply a necessary boundary condition to lead&follow and to get you through complex amalgamations/steps.
    It's funny how this works in the brain. With me, it seems to work like a switch: outside the floor I keep respectable distance, of course. But on the floor there's a different situation and rules. It's about dancing&acting and it only works in close hold. So you take close hold. The thinking goes into the performance, the enjoyment of the movements, the music, the harmony of it all, not into the body contact. That's just a necessity. I simply do not realize it when dancing.

    Not sure if this helps in any way, but after the initial hesitations (of course! I was 14 or so when first joining a ballroom class), I guess I got used to it over the years. I am perfectly able to separate contact on the floor and outside. As all my peers, fortunately.
    Now this was weird: during a line-up, when prizes are awarded, the men typically puts his arm around the waste of the lady. Now: this actually caused some discomfort with me... Where the contact was much closer during dancing... never practiced this part... As said: funny how the brain works...

    I am actually happy that I do not dance comps with my spouse, as I never have to take quarrels back home. My spouse joins once or twice per year to watch dresses...

    I can only encourage to continue dancing. There's so much pleasure in it!!!
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  19. MaggieMoves

    MaggieMoves Well-Known Member

    I get this entirely. Outside of dancing I am not necessarily touchy feely and like my own space. Dancing Smooth or Standard? I feel awkward without body contact.

    Me being touchy feely outside of dance depends on the level of crankiness I have.
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  20. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    So true! So rare someone actually takes our advice and then updates us as to their progress.
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